Flora & Ulysses – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 Film Flora & Ulysses.

Story

A very simple mixture of “cute pet” and “superhero origin story” combined with some top notch narration. The story flows well and is pretty solid. It’s a wonderful example of a post-modern plot taking inspiration from multiple other stories. It wasn’t perfect and had some awkward story points and things that weren’t fully explored.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie is about the characters more than the plot. The multiple journeys and stories are all very well acted and despite some seriously silly moments, the characters are likeable and grow. As both parents were writers of a sort, I certainly felt for them.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has jokes within jokes and is seriously much funnier than it should be. Some of the lines are ridiculously YA, but overall it’s better written dialogue than many adult movies.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It’s a surprisingly beautiful movie with well thought out cinematographic. The music was suitably heroic with wonderful callbacks to the MCU.

Score: 1

Fun

I went into this expecting another YA insult to cinema like Stargirl. I was not only pleasantly surprised, I laughed harder than I have in a long time. Both kids were glued to the TV and my wife, mother-in-law, and I laughed a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

A heartwarming film with plenty of Easter eggs for any diehard superhero fan. It’s a movie that will keep kids’ attention and keep the parents laughing throughout. A great combination of physical and wordplay comedy along with a fantastic cast make this one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Captain America: The First Avenger – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Story

The story is extremely simple and a perfect transition from the simpler superhero movies of the 2000’s to the more complex ones after.

It’s amazing that they managed to have a movie set in WWII that had only 3 Nazis.

The villain is scary smart if over-the-top and the story is wonderfully soothing.

As much as I love the romance between Cap and Carter, the convoluted obstacles are tiresome and unnecessary.

I would also would have liked more nuances on the concept of patriotism, but that would come with the future movies.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This movie was extremely well cast and all the actors play their roles wonderfully. Again I think Red Skull was a little much, but all the others are fantastic.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie, more than Iron-Man or Avengers, sets the bar for Marvel dialogue. It’s clever, quotable, and has fantastic depth.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie’s special effects still look amazing a decade later and visually this movie is a treat.

The music is fantastic and works perfectly for the movie.

Score: 1

Fun

Our Blu-ray has a bug where the dynamic range (loudest vs softest sounds) is huge, making me spend most of the movie changing the volume or not being able to understand the words. This is actually pretty common for Marvel movies and really pisses me off.

That being said, the movie kept the attention of the entire family and made me want to re-watch all the Marvel movies.

Score: 1

Overall

The unambiguity of the movie is its strength, bolstered by its fantastic dialogue and acting. It was the last before Avengers changed the landscape and set the bar for storytelling. It is by far the best Marvel Phase 1 film (Arguably Phase 2 also).

Final Score: 4.5

Point Zero – Chapter 12

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 12: A Road Trip and Rescue Mission

My best friends, the only people I had left, were being held by a government organization that wanted to use their powers to fight a war; or something. I’m not really sure what they wanted. I only had the word of my first love and crush, turned super-villain, for what they wanted.

We needed to make our way to CPL headquarters. The Canadian Protection League made their home in a familiar place: Point Zero. The place it had all started, a small town in Northern Ontario that had been wiped off the face of the map by aliens, sparing only the five of us and giving us ridiculous powers.

I thought my life was a bad comic book, but the more I spent time with Frank and realized he was the same man I’d loved, the more I was starting to think it was a bad science fiction television show from the 1990’s. 

How do two known super powered people get to Northern Ontario without raising suspicion? We weren’t sure, I couldn’t fly us there, driving would get us caught at the roadblocks, same with airplanes or busses. After lots of discussion we decided the best thing to do was go north into Quebec and then cross the border. 

We bought a used car from a sketchy dude and drove it to Montreal. Frank was chatty but very jumpy. He’d definitely changed from the carefree theatre major-to-be, but I’d changed too. We talked about everything and he apologized excessively.

In the middle of a conversation about our old communications tech teacher, Mz. Coderre, I interrupted him and said, “I don’t understand something. Mel had perfect control of her powers. How did she lose control of the storm?”

He smiled, “I thought the same thing. Mel doesn’t do anything until she’s sure it’ll be perfect, except pun.” He paused while we laughed. “I think there was a storm already starting and when she drew hers, it accelerated the pace. I looked at the data while you were in the hospital—” He made an apologetic face. “and when she tried to dismiss it, the storm weakened severely, but then picked up power naturally.”

“So she didn’t cause it?”

“She made it worse… I think you did too.”

“Great, so we’re both to blame?”

“Only a little…”

I sighed.

In Montreal we sold the car and bought another one. I was shocked at how easy it was to find illegal car vendors.

We took the back roads as far as the border and then traded the car for a motorboat. The Abitibi Lake and River got us close and the rest we could walk.

We walked, doing our best to survive on old beef jerky and canned food. Most of the water was drinkable, but we boiled it first just in case. 

Finally after what felt like weeks but was really only three days, we made to the same clearing where we first got shot at by the RCMP helicopter.

“How do you think they prevented Jane from teleporting?” I asked.

“Probably knocked her out and then…” he trailed off.

We both finished the sentence, “James.”

“So Jane is probably isolated or knocked out. Will they keep Mel and James in the same place?” The only answer to my question was his shrug.

We had a plan. It was a terrible plan, but a plan. Frank created two puppets of us and a few large scary orks. They appeared at the nearest town and started making a fuss.

We waited in the thickest part of the trees for the soldiers to leave. He held my hand and the electricity from that simple gesture had nothing to do with my powers. I was conflicted and worried about what he’d become and how we’d manage after all this was over. 

Four helicopters and several personnel carriers exited the base. We waited five minutes and I hovered us to a section of fence and used a concentrated arc of energy to cut through it. We walked into the base and tried our best to be stealthy. I had expected a highly protected complex, but this was more of a large tent city with some cabins. It was all built on the glass plateau created during the Point Zero incident.

Frank seemed to know where he was going and led us towards a series of cabins with reinforced doors. The lock on the first cabin fell off easily. Inside were Mel and Jane. 

Mel looked at me with wide eyes. “What are you doing here?” Then at Frank. “You’re alive.”

“Yes, he’s alive and we’re here to save you. The storm wasn’t completely your fault but more of team effort and bad luck. Please come with us,” I said it pleadingly. I was terrified she’d say no.

“Okay. Nothing I’ve done is as bad as what these people want me to do, so I’ll punish myself another time.”

Jane had been quietly watching us when I looked at her she shook her head, “They have James. I’m not leaving him.”

Mel, Frank, and I all responded the same way, “Of course not.” It felt nice to be on the same wavelength.

“Where are they holding him?”

Jane shook her head. There were four other cabins like this one but only one of them had a hose going to it. It was the most obvious place and thankfully he was there. James and Jane kissed for a long time and I was starting to get worried.

We checked the other cabins and found them empty but prepped for more people. Had they discovered more like us? Captured some from the other countries?

When we left the last cabin, Frank asked, “Shouldn’t we destroy this place?” As he said it a loud alarm went off and I heard the cocking of guns.

“DON’T MOVE A MUSCLE. Or do, I’d love to find out how fast your powers really are.” The one speaking was a bad stereotype of the military; the kind of man you found in really old movies.

I didn’t know what to do, there were fifty guards with guns pointed at us. Could I raise a big enough shield? Could Jane get us out quickly?

The alarm sirens were joined by a familiar green glow. It came from beneath us, the glass itself was glowing. It got brighter and brighter until I could barely see. Then it stopped and it was complete darkness. 

This time I looked up. I didn’t see the spaceship but I did see the green beam come towards us. I grabbed Frank’s hand as the searing pain hit me again. The last thing I heard was the soldiers’ screams.

The End?


While you wait for 2021’s Serial Story, catch up on last years

Point Zero – Chapter 11

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 11: Mama certainly didn’t say there would be days like this. 

I heard Frank’s voice and I thought I was dying or hallucinating. It had been a really long day and that day had started with me recovering from being a human lightning rod and gone downhill quick.

That’s kind of a good description of my life for the past year and a half. That’s saying something, considering it started by being abducted by aliens who played with my DNA and turned me into a superhero.

My vision was blurry, but I could see the Toronto skyline plummeting towards me… or was it the other way around?

“Frank, you’re dead,” I managed to mumble.

“No, I’m not, but you will be soon if you don’t snap out of it.” 

All I was able to do was give a weak, “Okay.”

Somehow despite the pain, fatigue, and exhaustion, I managed to use what little energy I had to slow myself down at the last second. I landed comfortably in a dumpster and fell asleep.

If you’ve never slept in a dumpster, I don’t recommend it. It’s stinky and filled with both sharp edges and gooey bits. For me, the awkward part was that I wasn’t alone. I woke up snuggling a raccoon who, thankfully, didn’t mind the attention. 

My mouth tasted funny, I ached, and worst of all, I was naked. I climbed out despite my muscles’, and bin-mate’s, protests. It was early morning and I had no idea how long it had been since the storm. I looked around and saw I was near the comic book shop. I ran through some back alleys, but this early no one saw me. 

The back door was locked, but I forced it open. I felt bad, but could pay for it later.

My first week on the job I had a disagreement with the iced coffee machine. I wanted to stay clean and give a customer their order, it wanted to splurt iced coffee everywhere and give me a bath. Between that and the busses in slush season, I had learned to keep a spare set of clothing in my locker. The good thing about where I worked was that the uniform was a geeky t-shirt with clean pants. I would have taken anything at this point.

I snuck into the break room, grabbed my bag of clothes and locked myself in the washroom. No one saw me since they were getting ready for the early morning coffee rush.

Halfway through a sink bath I remembered what I’d done in the fake hospital and put my clothes as far away as the washroom allowed. I increased my inner temperature and watched as all the literal garbage turned to ash on me and fell to the floor. I felt cleaner but the floor was now covered in ash and had two footprints burned into a tile. I wiped the rest of the ash off me and washed with soap any smelly areas.

I was now just missing my cell, ID, and shoes. I went to my boss and told him, “Hi Jon. I’m in some trouble and I lost my phone and don’t have any cash. Can you lend me some money?”

His red eyebrows raised and he looked around dramatically before he took me into the back office. “Sam, you shouldn’t be here. Everyone is looking for you. You need to lay low.” He then gave me a suitcase. It was my GTFO (Get the F out) suitcase. I looked at him with confusion and he replied, “Did you think you’d fooled a comic book store owner? I’ve known for months. Mel dropped off your suitcase just after the storm. She looked terrible; the storm killed over a thousand people and caused billions in damage. She said she was going to take responsibility for it and then this morning the Thorns were taken by RCMP.”

“How do I know you’re telling the truth?” I asked.

He stroked his red beard and nodded sagely before saying, “I listen, I watch, and I make friends with people much smarter than me. Trust me when I say they’ve all been taken and I know where.” He gave me an envelope and finished by saying, “You’d better go out the back. Don’t worry about the door.”

I left the same way I went in, only this time there was a shadowy figure watching me. I walked a few blocks and through the back alleys and busy streets, but I couldn’t lose them.

Finally I turned and said, “Who the hell are you and what do you want?”

Frank, looking older in the way a soldier looks older coming back from war, the way the rest of the group looked older, walked forward with a fast food bag and tray. “I got you a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Can we talk?”

“Hash brown?”

“Four, and a donut.”

I took the bag and leaned against the brick wall next to me. I inhaled the first two hash browns. Have I mentioned that our metabolisms had increased? Frank chuckled in a way that made me want to run over and hug him.

“You were dead.”

“Mostly dead. They were able to restart my heart and bring me back.”

I sighed, “Who are they?”

“Shady government organization, calls itself CPL, Canadian Protection League. They pretend to be RCMP. They trained me to use my powers and used me to run operations all over the world. When I figured out they weren’t cool, I escaped.”

I threw myself at him and hugged him. We’d never been huggy before, but that was because I didn’t want to give away how much I liked him. “I’m sorry we left you. I had no idea you were still alive.”

“If you hadn’t I wouldn’t be. I’m not sure I deserve that apology after everything I’ve put you through. You know I’m…”

I stepped back and punched him harder than I should have. “You’re an idiot. What the hell was that all about?”

“I was sure they were watching me and this was the easiest way for me to see you…” He trailed off and gave me puppy dog eyes. 

“That’s messed up. You killed people.”

“The moment that happened I stopped. It went too far.”

I sighed and finished my meal. I was still hungry. Mel would say that I needed to recharge. “I have to save them. They don’t deserve to be locked up.”

“I know. That’s why I’m here. I want to help.”

What could I say. My dead crush was my enemy but not really and now wanted to help. His powers would make the difference between succeeding and dying trying, I couldn’t say no. Hopefully he wasn’t planning on double crossing me. I did have another issue, “What about drone-guy?”

“I figured out who he is. His name is Bruce Gordon and he’s the one who trained me. It was all a ploy by CPL to have us expose ourselves.” 

My day started naked cuddling a raccoon in a dumpster and now I was going to team up with a supervillain to save my friends from an evil government organization. I’m not sure this was an improvement in anything but smell.

Read the Final Chapter


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Point Zero – Chapter 10

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 10: Another day another TRAP!

I was lucky that when I exploded with electric energy I was able to control where it went and that behind me was just an old warehouse dressed like a hospital. I didn’t think that as I stood in front of the impaled corpse of the most realistic puppet the Puppeteer had made so far. 

The Puppeteer spoke through his puppet, “You didn’t think I’d make it that easy for you? Did you, Sam?” The puppet collapsed but my ears still rang with the sound of my name.

I didn’t wait to see what happened next. I just threw myself into the sky flying as high as I could. The warehouse was just outside of town and it was a quick flight back to Toronto.

I tried my coms but they must have been fried in the storm or Mel had dismissed it. I was thankful she hadn’t dismissed my costume or I’d be as naked as I felt.

If the Puppeteer knew who I was, he knew who the rest were. I was so caught up in my own mind that I didn’t hear the police helicopters. I blame the rushing air, fatigue, and distraction. Either way, two RCMP attack helicopters flanked me out of the clouds.

Over a loudspeaker I heard, “Electric Knight. You are under arrest. Follow us quietly or we will open fire.”

“We’re over the city. That’s way too dangerous.” My words were lost to the rush of air and the thrumming of their propellers. 

I didn’t want to go with them, I didn’t want to be responsible for them opening fire in a residential neighbourhood, and I didn’t want to hurt them.

That left me no other option than to follow. In theory they should have taken me to a police station or the RCMP headquarters in Etobicoke. I half expected to be escorted to another abandoned warehouse. Instead we went higher and over the clouds I saw a floating battleship like something out of Marvel Comics or Doctor Who.

The bow said HMS Joe Clark. I couldn’t help but wonder, Joe Who.

Although the ship looked impressive, the proportions were off and I could feel almost no electricity use. “Please land on the carrier,” the voice from the helicopters said but they didn’t move towards it. 

I looked closely at the helicopters and concentrated on the pilots. I waved to see what would happen. They didn’t react. Their heads didn’t move. 

This was a trap… another one. 

I focused what little concentration I had left and looked at the helicopters. They were well built replicas but the power source was all wrong. It was electric. Which was a good thing for me. I tugged with my powers and took all the electricity from the batteries without changing speed or course. 

The ‘copters fell from the sky and a megaphone from the carrier screeched, “You think you’re so smart! Each of those had a chemical based bomb that will level half of Toronto. You’ll never get all three in time.” The screams were followed by what sounded like a bad cartoon villain laughing. 

The fact that he said three only clicked when the carrier started to fall. I flew as quickly as I could and grabbed the carrier. It was lighter than I would have expected; I threw it as hard as I could and when it was as high as possible I shot it with a bolt. 

The voice hadn’t lied, the explosion threw me down faster than I could have gone on my own. Between the push from the blast and my own power I flew fast enough to catch the first ‘copter. I hadn’t considered what to do with it. If I detonated it at this height, it would devastate whatever was below. If I didn’t, the other one would hit the ground before I had a change to get to it. 

I had only one choice, I had to pull this one to go catch the other. I grabbed the blades and pulled it along with me. It slowed me down and hurt my arms but I was catching up to the second one. I’m not sure what was scarier; holding a bomb, chasing a second bomb, or the sight of downtown rushing toward me at mach speeds.

I thought I wasn’t going to make it but I did and with less than a metre to spare I managed to grab the second ‘copter. I was now on Bay street with two bombs.

“You think that catching them will stop me?” the voice asked. I sighed as I realized he could detonate it remotely. I tightened my grip and pulled as fast as I could, straight up. I could feel my muscles fighting not to let go. I was also fairly certain I wasn’t going to get high enough.

Stopping my ascent, I thought about everything I knew about electricity. Then I remembered Frank filming a movie for one of our classes. He somehow talked all our teachers into letting him make a movie instead of another boring oral presentation. He had wireless microphones and whenever we were too close to anything electronic, they recorded this horrific hum. We had to build a barrier of metal and electricity to block the effect. He’d called it a Faraday cage. 

It wouldn’t stop an explosion… but it just might block a radio based transmission. 

Again I concentrated on my powers and created a bubble around myself and the helicopters. I went as high as I could before my hands gave out and tossed the helicopters as far as I could.

It was far enough to protect the city, but the blast hit me like a car. I was thrown back and the strength plus speed of it made my vision blur. 

I felt numb and despite the ground quickly moving up, my eyes felt heavy. I started to hallucinate and I heard Frank’s voice, “Don’t you dare give up now, Sam. I need you to live. I need you to open your eyes.” The clouds raced away from me and I wondered if I’d said something to offend them.

“Sam. Stop falling, I can’t lose you again.”

Read Chapter 11


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Secret Society of Second-Born Royals.

Story

An interesting mix of Kingsman and Sky High with very little original content. It’s fun but neither complex or original. I called the twists way before I should have and felt disappointed rather than proud that I did.

It also suffered from excess world building, making it feel like a pilot episode rather than a movie.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were pretty much a mixture of superhero and high school stereotypes but they were very well played. The actors made some awkward character arcs seem more believable than they should have.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Neither bad nor memorable, the dialogue was passable. There were a few standout moments between the kids and the narrator/teacher and a great scene between the main character and her future queen sister.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects were okay, but the scenery was great. The camera angles and cinematography were good but not great.

The music was mostly pretty bland until there was someone playing on screen, then it was great. A weird mixture of styles and feels like they’d originally made this a musical and then changed their minds but couldn’t let go of some of the music.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed myself and liked watching the characters develop, but it wasn’t gripping.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Bogged down by world building and a derivative script, the movie felt like its goal was to set up the characters and world for a TV show. Nothing about it was terrible, but it wasn’t very good. I’d watch it again for the rock music and impressive actors.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Point Zero – Chapter 9


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 9: Motivation, Mysteries, and Melting

The man pretending to be a doctor smirked as he waited for me to explain how I’d figured out who he was. “It’s not that hard. Your mask didn’t cover that chin. Put together with the fact that Animator isn’t here to help and my suit is still attached to me, that means this isn’t a real hospital. Plus this place smells like old paint and dust.” It was a smell I was so familiar with because of helping Frank in the theatre at school.

“Well done,” he said as he dramatically clapped. His facial expression and tone made it clear that it wasn’t a compliment. “Now. Tell me what you can about those abominations.”

“You know more than I do. They melt in water and have tech inside.” I wanted to see where this went.

“And the storm?”

I’m not sure why I lied there. I was worried for Mel. I hoped she was okay and took comfort in the fact that my suit was still on me. It meant that Mel was alive. “I did that. Sorry I got a little over zealous. You understand that right?”

His eyes flashed with anger but he just smiled smugly. He stayed that way, almost preternaturally still as I tried to figure out how to get out of the restraints. 

The mechanical sound next to me reminded me that I was attached to an intravenous drip. I sent a small electric bolt through my body and into the machine. The fizzing noise and the smoke rising from the top were satisfying.

The Puppeteer was still standing watching me, but it felt less like he was watching and more like a blank eyed stare from a video game character.

“Why gold?” I asked and he seemed to wake up.

“I really don’t need anything but the dance we’ve been doing. Villain versus hero, good versus bad, we dance you and I and it’s wondrous.”

“You don’t care for the gold or money?”

“I’d only make an army of golden children. Goldilocks with lazers.” He shrugged and smirked and it looked completely wrong on his face. Like a bad actor or maybe a bad mask.

The thing about restraints is that there isn’t a material on earth that doesn’t melt eventually. Tungsten melts at 5410 Celsius and boils at 5930 Celsius. A lightning bolt at full force can heat the air around it at temperatures hotter than the sun itself; that’s in the high 20,000 Celsius. They weren’t using tungsten.

“So all you want is to fight us with more and more ridiculous puppets?”

“No. I like the dance. I live for the dance. But I have a bigger goal—”

I didn’t let him finish. A concentrated blast of electricity around my wrists and ankles at the restraints was enough to make them evaporate. The room was filled with a black smoke and the smell of burning tires.

It was as good a smoke screen as I could have expected. I jumped up out of the bed and landed on my feet. The world tilted sideways and and then so did I. The floor was kind enough to catch me… specifically my face. I tasted blood and tried again to stand up. The world shifted a little again and I realized what was going on. 

“You drugged me?”

“I’m evil not stupid,” he said through coughs. The room was clearing of smoke but my mind and equilibrium were still terrible. 

I’m not sure what gave me the idea but I figured that if the heat from my lightning could melt the rubber, maybe it could burn the drugs out of my body. 

“Seeing as you’re not stupid, I think you might want to leave the room, maybe the building.” It sounded cooler in my head but I blame the drugs. At least it wasn’t a pun, Mel would be disappointed.

I started building the lightning inside of me but it wasn’t enough; I was tired and had already used a lot of my strength on the restraints.  I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I looked around and found nothing to help me but I felt electricity buzzing in the walls. I reached with my mind or powers towards it and felt a rush of relief as I drained the energy.

The Puppeteer was still standing there with a disinterest look on his face. “Get out of here!” I screamed and he didn’t even flinch.

I knew that he wasn’t going to move and I tried to redirect my energy and heat. Finally I literally burst with energy. My last thought before it happened was that this could burn my insides along with the drug. It was too late to worry about it at that point.

I was drugged, tired, recovering from burns, and being the focal point for a supernatural storm and I still managed to save the man in front of me when I exploded. The room behind me and in a large arc was destroyed and on fire. Thankfully the room had been a set built to look like a hospital and not a real one. Another thing I hadn’t considered.

Feeling better and still crackling with energy I stood up and said, “This ends now.” Forming a sword with low energy I hoped it would be enough to knock him out not kill him.

“I’m sorry but it really doesn’t. You’re showing some incredible control. I’m impressed. I’ll have to up my game… After I take out the imposter.” He pulled out a gun.

I kicked the gun out of his hand and he jumped at me like he thought he had a knife in his hands. He impaled himself on my sword; it should have just been enough to disrupt his heart, but instead it burnt a hole through his shirt and sand started to fall out of the wound.

The Puppeteer spoke through his puppet, “You didn’t think I’d make it that easy for you? Did you, Sam?”

Read Chapter 10


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Point Zero – Chapter 8


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 8: Shocked and grounded

The storm, once started, gained its own agency. Building on what Mel had drawn, the storm became self sustaining. As hard as Mel tried to draw or erase her way out of it, the storm raged beyond her control.

Lightning struck all over the city, mostly hitting the CN Tower, but also plenty of other places causing fires and the kind of destruction that only a major storm could.

The giant balls of faux-alien gelatin were forgotten as soon as the first droplets melted them away.

“Do I create a dome over the city? A giant fan to blow it away?” Mel was in a guilt induced panic.

“No. Concentrate on small things that will help people. Coordinate with the others.” I said it as I started to fly up.

“What are you going to do?” Mel’s question was punctuated by a hundred blasts of lightning hitting the city. 

I could hear sirens at a distance. This storm wasn’t going to give up until all its power had dissipated. I suddenly wished I had watched more weather documentaries or paid better attention in science class. “Something shockingly stupid,” was my reply and even the pun didn’t soften the worry lines on Mel’s face.

I flew up above the city in the centre of the storm and took a deep breath. When the first bolt of lightning struck me, it tickled, giving me a false sense of security. One tickled, ten itched, a hundred stung. I lost count of the strikes as every part of me started to sing with electricity. 

The storm was relentless and I couldn’t keep up with the energy. I had never channeled anything like this and It hurt deeply, like my cells were screaming in pain.

When I couldn‘t handle any more, I thought of Frank and all my friends and family that I had lost. They gave me the strength to carry on. When I lost that, I concentrated all that lightning into pure heat and shot it into the storm. 

I passed out. The last thing I remember was my own screaming.

I woke up tied to a bed with rubber restraints. My skin felt raw and was covered in some sort of jelly. I lay there staring at a white ceiling and institutional fluorescent light for what felt like ages but I had no way of knowing if it was. I heard the telltale beeps and other noises of an IV and heart monitor.

“Oh good. You’re awake,” A male voice said from out of my eyeline. I tried to turn and see who it was but my neck was held in some sort of brace. “No no. Don’t try to move, you seriously hurt your neck.” That didn’t sound very medical.

The man stepped into my sightline and I asked in a hoarse voice, “What happened?”

“You were hit by a lot of lightning. You broke your neck, back, legs, and most of your ribs.” That explained why it hurt to breathe. “You also have burns over 90% of your body. When you came in, you fried every piece of equipment in the hospital.”

“Sounds bad,” I croaked, feeling a little stronger.

“That’s the thing, Electric Knight, you’re going to be fine. You’re healing faster than humanly possible. You’ll be as good as new by the end of the week.”

“How—” My question was interrupted by a horrible sounding and feeling cough. “Long,” I managed to croak out.

Bringing me water and putting a straw to my lips, he answered, “You’ve been here for a month.”

I spit some water out, my surprise turning into another bout of coughing. When I finally recovered, I tried to sit up. The restraints around my chest and arms stopped me. “I need to see my friends. Why am I tied down?”

“No one could touch you and you were thrashing. We had to insulate you and ground the room.” 

“Okay… Can you release me?”

“Um. I’ll go ask the doctor.”

I was left alone again. Something about him bothered me. Didn’t nurses or orderlies usually use more medical jargon? If they couldn’t touch me, how had they managed to tie the restraints?

I sneezed; like all sneezes it was sudden. It was also violent but it didn’t hurt as bad as I’d expected. It felt more like I was bruised than broken. My nose tickled and I tried to place the smell that was now assaulting my nose.

In a hospital, or any public building, I should be smelling cleaning products. But this wasn’t that, it reminded me of something. 

Before I had the chance to place it, the doctor came in and he looked familiar. I couldn’t place it until he started to speak, he had a deep melodic imitation of a theatre voice. “Ah. The patient is awake. How nice to have you with us again Electric Knight.” 

“Why do you keep calling me Electric Knight?” I asked.

“Your face was burned and we had no other way to identify you.”

“Can I be untied?”

The doctor made a tsking noise and said, “Until we’re sure you’re not going to electrocute the building, we’re going to keep you as you are.” I was going to object, but he didn’t give me a chance instead he continued, “Do you have any idea who created the storm or those things that attacked the city?”

If the smell and the weird voice hadn’t been enough to make me suspicious, that question raised a red flag. The police would want to know, but a doctor? He hadn’t even asked me if I was feeling okay.

“I assumed it was the Puppeteer that sent those things.” I was lying.

The doctor’s eyes bulged and he said with forced calm, “That’s not possible, these things had cameras inside. They were crude and in no way up to the standards of the Puppeteer.”

“I don’t know, these things were pretty high tech. I mean they had quadcopters and gelatin controlled by radio waves.”

The doctor turned red and shouted, “High tech for the early two-thousands maybe, but it lacks artistry, nothing like—” he cut off and then smiled. “I’m impressed, you got me monologuing. How did you know?” asked the Puppeteer pretending to be a doctor.

Read Chapter 9


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Point Zero – Chapter 7


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 7: Great Balls of Slime 

The thing that crashed into our living room looked like a two metre ball of gelatine; dark green, wobbly, and smelling vaguely of lime. The differences were the giant eyes and the mouth. 

“Oh, you picked the wrong apartment,” I said, happy to have a problem I could punch or electrocute. 

“Wait!” yelled Mel. “We should get out of here and let the police or superheroes deal with this. I gave her a confused look and she pointed at her eyes. We all decided it was best to not argue with her as the ball started to slowly move towards us.

We made our way into the stairwell and Mel said, “If those things have eyes and if the Puppeteer sent them then he can probably see everything they do.”

“That’s a lot of if’s,” Jane started, “But I guess we need to be careful. Let’s suit up. I’ll take James and we’ll come in from the roof to throw off suspicions. You two, go this way.”

Mel drew on our suits and we moved back towards the apartment. The large gelatin Pac-man was stil there and still moving slowly towards the door. I looked at it and then looked at Mel. “What do we do to fight this thing?”

“Why would you fight me,” boomed the deep accented voice of the gelatin.

“You crashed into our—” I cut myself off and paused before continuing, “city and your friends seem to be eating parts of it.”

“We are peaceful creatures from Alpha Centauri. We’re here to establish peaceful relations with your people.” It sounded like a slow speaking movie trailer voice.

“I can see your peaceful people eating our people outside.” Mel stuck out her hip and gave him her best unimpressed voice.

“Those are not your people. We’re here for those you call superheroes. They are the superior species. The rest are only good for food.”

“Thank you for making this an easy decision,” I said and threw a bolt of electricity at the thing. It absorbed the electricity and started to move faster.

I formed a sword and got ready to attack it when James arrived and started shooting it with water. Every jet of water shrunk the gelatinous mass until there was nothing left but the eyes.

“Aliens that are taken out by water. Now that’s just silly.” Jane sounded amused.

I walked over to one of the eyes and sliced it in half. It was hollow inside with complex looking electronic parts. I looked them over and saw that they were a combination speaker, microphone, camera, and control chip to move the eyes.

Before I could inspect it more Jane said, “We should really get out there and stop this.”

I looked out the hole in our wall and saw the destruction this was causing. The ships were still shooting out gelatinous creatures and the creatures were eating people and things but mostly causing property damage. “Plati-Power and Tele-Porter, get out there and splash those things into oblivion. Animator and I are going to go visit those ships.

When they’d left Mel asked, “How do you plan to get to the ships? Should I draw us some jet packs?”

“Nope. I’ve been working on something. Hold on.” I motioned to my back. Mel held on in a piggy back ride style. I concentrated my power on my hands and feet and pushed. We took off a lot faster than I’d expected.

“You can fly?” Mel sounded excited and amazed.

“I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction and I thought maybe I could use electromagnetism to fly and it worked, but the more I think about it the more I think I’m actually generating ion thrust.”

“I have no idea what that means but yay.”

We flew towards the first ship and it started firing gelatinous balls at us. I was more maneuverable than they could shoot and we made it to the ship without being slimed. 

The ship felt like cheap plastic and I could hear the whirring of some sort of fan. It was probably just a really large drone.

I touched my helmet and changed what I could see. It wasn’t X-ray, but it let me see into the electric workings of the ship. I had been right, it was just a giant version of a quadcopter with a rotating gun that shot out gelatinous balls with eyes.

“Do you know of any way to trace these things? They are being remote controlled.” Mel asked.

“That’s radio or light waves, not electricity. I wonder why the Puppeteer would go to this much trouble.”

 “And why hasn’t he demanded his pile of gold?”

We both shrugged and I started shooting powerful blasts of energy at the other ships. The first exploded and released all of it’s balls at once. I gave it more power and the next was disintegrated but we still had the problem with the gelatin.

Mel started sketching something and suddenly the sky above us was filled with clouds. The air smelled of dust and pepper. The wind started out feeling warm but quickly turned to biting cold. I could feel the energy in the air before I saw the first lightning. The thunder struck as soon as I saw it and the city trembled. 

As the rain started to fall in large droplets, I saw Mel desperately trying to erase her paper. The sky was filled with light, water, and sound. Over the now deafening roar of wind and constant thrum of thunder Mel tried to say but only managed to mouth, “I can’t stop it.”

Read Chapter 8


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Point Zero – Chapter 6


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 6: Frank or Not Frank? What’s going on?

We were captured. The Puppeteer had us surrounded by an unknown number of gunmen… gun-puppets? and I was fairly certain he was Frank. It was the only thing that made sense. There were too many coincidences. 

The Puppeteer had named us and was getting ready to show himself and dramatically said, “I am the Puppeteer but you can call me…” he trailed off and stopped talking. Stepped back into the shadows.

“Gah! I can’t stand this I need to know,” Mel started to draw on her pants and a comically large lamp appeared in the middle of the warehouse. 

I expected to see a platoon of the Dudley’s with guns but there was no one there at all. Just a couple dozen portable speakers. 

I thought the shadow that had called itself the Puppeteer was gone until I saw him running down the stairs. He wore a dramatic looking cape and black suit. 

The frustration, sadness, and especially anger that had been building in me since I started to suspect it was Frank exploded out in an arc of lightning. It exploded the closest speaker and arced to the next and the next and the next in quick succession, and soon the entire system was on fire. 

Before it was half way done, I ran after the man. I tossed a lightning bolt at him and it hit the wall next to him, the electricity singing as it hit the metal wall and traveled down. He ran for the back door. I thought I was going to miss my chance at seeing who he was, but at the last second before going through the back door of the warehouse he turned to me and smiled. He was wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask but I could see most of his face and it was pale white, where Frank had been the dark olive of his Greek ancestry. 

He blew me a kiss and I heard him say, “We’ll flirt later.” I should have been disgusted or at the very least annoyed, but instead his voice sent a little shiver up my spine the way Frank’s had. I’d been thinking about him too much.

“He got away,” Mel said as she caught up with me. 

“Did you see his face?” 

“I saw he was wearing a mask and was totally white.”

“Not Frank.”

“Why do you sound disappointed?”

“I… miss him.” I said, trying not to cry. “And him being a supervillain is better than dead.” It started as a question but ended as an admission.

A final explosion from above marked the downfall of the last speaker. Suddenly my earpiece was filled with screaming.

“—THE HELL ARE YOU TWO!” James’s voice sounded panicked.

“Platy-Power, what’s happening? Animator and I were just in the presence of the Puppeteer.”

“Well we’ve been in the presence of Mer-Bears… and they’re literally taking a bite out of the harbour nightlife.”

“Can Tele-Porter come get us?”

“She’ll be there in a moment. She’s trying to move an oil tanker before they breach the hull.”

The Mer-Bears were the first Puppeteer stunt to cause casualties. Despite our best efforts the Mer-Bears managed to chew through more than one boat. The real surprise was them jumping onto shore to bite people.

What had been treated as an entertaining spectacle by most people suddenly became real and dangerous. It had the side effect of having us treated like accessories instead of heroes.

As we waited for more attacks we tried to plan for what the Puppeteer would do next.

Mel paced as she talked, “This sucks.” She was staring the picture she’d drawn of the Puppeteer.

Everyone nodded and James added, “All we’re doing is reacting. We need to find out who this guy is, and stop him.”

“I’m a barista, not a detective or plucky reporter.” I sighed, realizing what Mel would say.

“No you’re the hero. We all are. We’re the Thorns!” Mel said it and I could tell she was trying to be uplifting, but it didn’t help.

“Electric Knight and the Thorns, according to the news.” Jane shook her head and added, “Sounds more like a 70’s punk rock cover band.”

“How do we find this guy if we don’t have any idea how he does what he does?” Mel waved at the picture in her hand and a copy of the Puppeteer appeared in front of her. She punched it really hard and it flew across the room.

“Feel better?” I asked.

“No,” Mel pouted as she spoke. She dismissed the fake Puppeteer. 

“What is he? Why gold? How does he do all these things?”  James asked, splashing a little as he talked.

Looking around at each other, we all sighed. I was the first to say something, “I don’t know, but the answers aren’t just going to appear in front of us.”

As if the universe was out to embarrass me, I heard screams from the street, “The aliens are coming, the aliens are back, it’s the end of the world!”

A whistling noise overtook the screams and something crashed into our living room, something big, green, and terribly well-timed.

Read Chapter 7


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories: